Nordic and French Business
Some key points on cultural differences between Nordic countries (Sweden, Finland, Norway, Denmark) and France in the business world:
- Less hierarchical organisation in Nordic countries than in France, a fairly flat organisation.
- French organisation is more top down.
- Nordic managers delegate more easily than French managers.
- Nordic managers keep their doors open and offices are often designed as open space areas.
- French managers are often less accessible than their Nordic counterparts.
- Nordic managers tend to search for consensus rather than decide without consulting the team as is often the case in France. This method makes the decision-making process longer in these countries.
- Nordics strive to avoid conflict at all costs and tend to search for common ground.
- The French rather enjoy confrontation and like to bounce off different ideas at meetings.
- French managerial style is more direct and more formal than Nordic managerial style.
- In Nordic countries, a raised voice is frowned upon and is considered as a loss of self-control, which is not the case in France.
- Nordic culture is marked by a strong commitment to one’s work and individual responsibility while French employees wait to receive specific instructions from their managers.
- Decisions are implemented faster in Nordic countries because everyone is in agreement once the decision is made.
- French managers make decisions faster (top down), but they have to adjust them more often.
- Goal-driven management in Nordic countries; more freedom to reach a goal (the latter is more important), more trust in the team.
- Less micro-management by Nordics while French managers prefer to set a specific framework for the job to be done.
- More respect for business hours and private life by Nordics, more emphasis on efficiency at work rather than presence in the office.
- Family life and sports are very important for many Nordics, hence the absolute respect for office hours.
- The French have more holidays due to the 35-hour working week (mandatory time off in addition to the five-week statutory annual leave, depending on the company’s usual working hours).
- Nordics often work from home and many of them continue working (answering emails) in the evening after tending to their family duties, with priority given to flexibility.
- The French have also become used to working from home due to the health crisis, but it is still marginal and less encouraged by French managers compared to their Nordic counterparts.
- Since Nordics tend to speak English very well, one can work in these countries without speaking the local language, which is not the case in France.